A recent post by a fellow contributor, Charles Hussell, led me to a rather prolonged perambulation through two very intriguing blogs – Big Al’s Books and Pals, and Red Adept. Both specialize in the review and promotion of “Indie” authors and both deal almost entirely in eBook format. What? Book sites without any real, tangible books? Nonsense!
Here lies the rub: I’ve made no secret of my distaste of these parasitic e-gremlins which threaten to preserve the trees and forever eradicate my beloved books. But these two blogs may have helped sway me to a slightly less severe condemnation of the medium.
For one, people are buying them. A lot of them. That means people are reading a lot of books. I like that. The authors like that. So lets give the kindle and its kin, the kindlekin, a point. Two, there seems to be a whole new evolution, a bonafied revolution happening in the book publishing world, driven in large part by the emergence of these electronic devices. The once formidable gates of the big 6 publishers are showing some rust, and maybe, just maybe, a crack or two. No longer can they loom menacingly over those less established authors who have yet to be given the key. And as one of those keyless saps I say, Viva La Revolucion! Another point for the kindlekin. Three, a few of these books emerging on sites like the above mentioned are really, really good books. Of course one has to sift through the chaff to find them, which used to be an editor’s job. But I guess that’s what peer reviews are for – we trust them for that LCD TV, for the new laptop, so why not for the books we read as well? Let someone else find the crap and flush it.
So here we tip-toe around the dilemma – what are we giving up? I am a fairly early adopter of almost all forms of techno-wows, yet like a mule (ass) with his hoofs dug in the mud, I have resisted and raged against this ruthless persecution of paper. How can I read a book without the satisfaction of watching the progress of my bookmark? Without feeling it, smelling it, knowing its weight in my hands? What fear does War and Peace instill when reduced to an icon on an iPad? When there is no awesome terror of the sheer mass of the thing – what then? Will any old Joe and Sally dare to read it? Oh wait. Damn. Another point for the kindlekin. How about this angle – what about all those bloated big box book stores that are sadly starved for customers and closing up shop? Will we stand idly by and let some cozy Mom and Pop’s store re-emerge in their absence? Oh, screw it.
But just try, I dare you, just try and read that kindle of yours on the floating mattress in the pool.